Boxing

Carl Frampton all set for Herring duel as Tyrone McKenna braces for clash with 'Da Kazakh Kid'

Carl Frampton faces WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring on Saturday night
Andy Watters

YEARS of making weight and continuously boiling his 5'10” frame down to just 9st4lbs will catch up with WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring on Saturday night, predicts Carl Frampton.

Belfast's ‘Jackal' is supremely confident that he will end the almost two-year reign of New Yorker Herring at Caesar's Palace Dubai and become a world champion in a third weight class.

He doesn't believe that former US Marine Herring has the engine or the skills to stay really threaten him on Saturday night. Herring sees it differently of course. The former US Olympian won his championship belt in May 2019 by dethroning Japan's Masayuki Ito and he has successfully defended the title twice since then – against Lamont Roach and Jonathan Oquendo.

The two losses on his 22-2 card came during his days at lightweight so he is unbeaten at super-feather but he hasn't mixed in the same quality as Frampton who has wins over Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz and Nonito Donaire on his record.

“He hasn't been where I've been,” says Frampton whose fight will be screened live on Channel 5.

“He wouldn't have won a world title at lightweight, which was his first weight, he lost to guys like Denis Shafikov and Ladarius Miller who weren't world champions and he was beaten well by them.

“So he has boiled himself down to super-featherweight and he's a big guy but there's only so much you can take out of your body in making weight constantly before it catches up with you. It was close to catching up on him in his last fight (against Jonathan Oquendo who was disqualified for repeated use of his head) but I think this is the fight when it will catch up on him.

“He only arrived here on Saturday – I've been out here for two weeks. I was coming from a four-hour time difference – he's coming from an 11-hour time difference. He got out here on Saturday and he's already done five sessions.

“He has to make weight and he's training hard and I think this is the fight when it catches up with him. It will be a bit like Oscar Valdez and Miguel Berchelt. Berchelt always used his size to overwhelm people but when Valdez (who knocked out Berchelt to win the WBC version of the super-featherweight title) found a way to negate that and move then he didn't know what to do.

“Because of years of making weight, his size and strength is not going to be what he thinks it is.”

Frampton is stepping up from featherweight so weight is not expected to be an issue for him and his coach posted a video of the fighter tucking into a meal in Dubai on Sunday.

“My weight's alright,” said Frampton.

“I haven't even started to try to make weight yet. Yesterday was my last big day of eating and I'll start restricting it as the week goes on but it's not going to be a problem at all.”

Both fighters are staying in the same hotel but, although he has seen some of Herring's coaching team, Frampton hasn't spotted ‘Semper Fi' around the lobby yet. He'll save the hostilities until Saturday night if and when he does.

“I haven't bumped into him yet – he's probably in the gym,” he said.

“If I see him I'll say ‘hello'. I've always been respectful and I won't blank him – I've never done that before to opponents and he seems like a nice guy.”

TYRONE McKenna is as game and tough as they come and the Belfast light-welterweight faces a massive test of his durability and his boxing ability on Saturday night when he faces unbeaten Zhankosh Turarov on the undercard of Frampton-Herring in Dubai.

McKenna (21-2-1) is challenging for Turarov's WBO Inter-Continental belt and the world ranking that goes along with it and, despite losing to Ohara Davies last time out, he is fully confident that he'll beat ‘Da Kazakh Kid' at Caesar's Palace.

“Everyone thought that the Ohara Davies fight was a big opportunity but I think this fight is a bigger one,” said McKenna, who flew out to the Middle East on Sunday.

“He's an undefeated fighter and a tough fighter but when I beat him I'm WBO Inter-Continental champion, in the top five with the WBO and in a position to call out for a world title shot. It's a massive opportunity and that's why I trained as hard as I did.

“He's a tough fighter, he's strong, but I don't think he'll be able to handle the pace I set, I don't think he'll be able to handle my style – I'm 6'1”, I'm a southpaw – and I don't think he's been in the calibre of fights I've had. He hasn't got my experience so he's in for a bit of a shock if he goes toe-to-toe with me.

“I'm always good with orthodox fighters. I always find southpaws tricky but when it comes to orthodox I always think my defence is a lot better so I'm not worried about his right hand because they're the kind of shots that I do catch.

“He is good, he's smart and he's slick so I don't think it's an easy night but I think I've beat better, I think I've been in with a lot better and I don't think he's been in with my calibre and that's going to be a big factor on the night.”

Tuarov has 17 stoppage wins on his 24-fight record. McKenna has also fought two dozen times as a pro but he has struggled to produce his best at elite level. The two losses on his card were against Carl Frampton stablemate Jack Catterall (in June 2018) and against long-term rival Davies last September.

He is well aware that he will need to produce something special to win on Saturday night but feels the experience he has gathered from the good nights and the bad has left him well prepared for the challenge.

“I know what it feels like to get hurt – he doesn't,” said ‘The Mighty Celt'.

“I know what it feels like to have to dig really, really deep – I've watched his fights and he never really has to dig deep.

“I know what you have to go through, I know about biting down on the gumshield and grinding out a win – I don't think he knows.

“I don't know if he can do what you have to do to win a hard fight. It'll be interesting to see how he copes and there are a lot of other questions that he hasn't answered as a professional.”

There is another question: What sort of condition will Turarov be in on Saturday night? He hasn't boxed since July 2019 and McKenna suspects he will be ring-rusty as a consequence.

“Inactivity is the silent killer of boxers,” he says.

“I think that's going to be huge. I know that I have the heart to win and I've proved time and time again that I can go to war and those fights will stand by me. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll be able to go to war but he's going to have doubts.”

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